Since 1973, NCJJ has been a key information clearinghouse, providing research to support decision-making for juvenile justice officials. Tracking and maintaining their large database of historical information can become cumbersome as there are 51 non-tribal juvenile justice systems in the United States, not including over 500 recognized tribal governments, which often have their own specific juvenile statutes. NCJJ required large scale improvements to their content and document management systems, including robust search tools.
From its inception to the onset of the Internet, NCJJ had volunteers and staff on hand to take phone calls and respond to mail from probation officers, judicial officials, and others looking for best practices regarding juvenile issues. This was essentially done on a one-to-one basis. Staff would turn to the NCJJ library and other resources in order to prepare packets of material regarding each specific case and mail those packets to the inquirer. This method was very time consuming and needed to be automated, while ensuring that information would be locally accurate and customized to the user’s needs.
Over the years NCJJ developed a large library of information regarding juvenile issues. As the library grew the organization was able to publish it to the web, however the information was displayed in a flat HTML format that was not very interactive to the users. NCJJ engaged Simply Bits to help solve the usability issues as well as to provide a way to publish the large amount of relevant data that NCJJ has collected over the years that was not yet electronically accessible.
NCJJ released an RFP looking for solution providers in a national search, and turned to Simply Bits for the
redevelopment of the site after seeing the approach and capabilities leveraging Sitefinity for the CMS platform. Simply Bits immediately noted the CMS architecture needed for NCJJ had to be easy to use across various technical skill levels and flexibly enough to handle an integration of the NCJJ Information Database in a highly searchable format.
Using Telerik’s Sitefinity as the CMS platform, Simply Bits could offer everything NCJJ needed, including the ability to handle requirements that had yet to be defined. Jason Green, lead developer for Simply Bits, states: “We love the open architecture of Sitefinity, as this allows us to extend the existing architecture to cover the customizations that NCJJ required, without introducing any unnecessary complexity.”
During the development of both the NCJJ website and the resourced integration, Simply Bits developers were able to take advantage of many of the out-of-the-box features of Sitefinity. Simply Bits was able to quickly implement several web designs for review by NCJJ within Sitefinity. Next, Simply Bits implemented a custom backend module in Sitefinity that allows NCJJ staff to maintain a complex mapping of topics, states, staff contacts, and publications which are exposed on the public site with both search and browsing capabilities. They were able to leverage the Telerik AJAX controls to customize standard asp.net user controls used to search and display the NCJJ resources delivering a richer experience to the end users, and NCJJ makes good use of the Sitefinity user accounts and backend online administration to allow many members of the staff to maintain the system.
NCJJ is extremely pleased with the new website. Sitefinity and Simply Bits implemented a solution that allows more NCJJ staff to be involved in the maintenance of content on the website. Juvenile probation officers, judges, and other advocates now have easier access to important information, and the look and feel of the website better represents the quality of this organization. Traffic growth has maintained a consistent incline since being launched and through the use of Sitefinity the NCJJ staff continues to maintain closer relations with the end users than ever before. Patricia Campie, Director of NCJJ states: “This was a major upgrade that has enhanced our ability to gather and organize large, complex data sets and translate them into easy to use reports. Many thanks to Simply Bits and Sitefinity for the great platform that is furthering our goals as the primary national source for unbiased information on the US juvenile justice system!”